Interview with Actor/Writer Joanne Vannicola (TRASHED)

TRASHED was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the January 2022 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I was tired of there being a lack of authentic representation in film and tv. As an advocate, artist, writer and actor- I just felt like I wanted more, needed more.

There are so many of us who identify as non-binary, gender queer, and LGBTQ2S+, and I felt like it mattered that I try to create content. As the founder and chair of the actors queer committee in the union, I knew how many queer actors were feeling under-represented and invisible, and how little work there is/was for many. That was one reason, I just wanted to make something that was connected to my people, my soul, and memories. I was also inspired by Kafka, and how it feels to be in the wrong body. In Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the boy describes what it’s like to wake up as a beetle, how he was stuck in a body that he couldn’t move in, and the despair or loneliness and invisibility really struck me. As someone who identifies as non-binary and queer, I wanted to explore this feeling in a narrative form, but I also wanted to honour some of the people in my life and in our community who struggled with addiction, or homelessness, and who were on the edge. I lost my dear friend a number of years ago and that friend is with me all the time in some way, and I wanted to honour their memory and life and create something that would hopefully have meaning and impact and would connect with viewers. I hoped they would maybe learn something, or be able to relate, or feel seen, or…

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

It took a few months. Covid made things a bit harder. Plus it was a low budget and so we had to work within peoples schedules and when time would permit. But from shooting to editing, music scoring, color correction, and then developing materials like the EPK, a trailer, a poster, etc, there was a lot to do. But we did it! Many months.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

(Why are you making me work so hard? 🙂 ). I would say, raw and loving.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Well, COVID presented a number of challenges. Everything was more expensive with PPE, COVID tests, and then there were issues like our original DP ended up stepping down because they had been exposed to COVID on another set and we needed to get a new DP within days before going to camera. It was quite stressful, but Nyssa Glück was phenomenal, and your festival even honoured her with Best Cinematography, so that was so lovely. There were some technical issues that we encountered, or problems, but it just meant we had to try and make some corrections in post. So there were some big sound problems like very creaky floors from an old house! Or the lighting was off sometimes, or a prop or two in the wrong place at the wrong time, but all those challenges were met, and in the end, I think we did well with the resources we had and we are all so proud of this short film.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I found it beautiful and emotional. I was grateful to receive feedback because we are in a bubble and unable to participate in most festivals. So it was the first time I was able to really hear and see people and their reactions to the film and it meant a lot. Thank you so much for sending it. It also made me think of my friend that passed on, and I think they would have been proud.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:
https://youtu.be/6X8H98nlFJA

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I have been an actor and writer for a long time, or an actor for a long time. Being non-binary and queer has impacted my career in negative ways for decades. Through my activism and advocacy, I knew that I would be shifting towards creating content because in some way, it feels like my life depends on it. We need so much more content and stories that truly reflect the diversity of people, character, histories (and so much more) from those of us in the LGBTQ2S+ community. We deserve to tell our stories, to see them, be seen in them, and for there to be an abundance of them! But we are not ther yet. I wrote a memoir in 2019 called All We Knew but Couldn’t Say, and some of the content inside the book speaks to some of these issues on a deeply personal and political level. But I grew up with film and television and it’s been massive part of my life since I was a child. It just seems important now to create more content for film and t.v. And I’m just going to keep trying. I do the work, and if I’m lucky my hard work will cross paths with luck!

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I’m not sure what you mean but I’ve seen thousands! Lol. But certainly the queer ones that stick with me are: Torch Song Trilogy, CRAZY (one of my fave Canadian films), Moonlight, Angels in America, oh and not queer, but I just watched Beans and it was amazing. Gosh there are so many films from so many decades! This is a hard question.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

It would be really helpful to get more feedback perhaps. I do love that you do this already. But also, it would be great to meet producers and people invested in backing queer films. I wrote a feature about queer homeless youth, and I’m worried that regular avenues for support or financial backing, or even finding production companies that might be interested will be a difficult journey, but it would be a great help to meet people or be able to share the vision of the screenplay and find allies who might be invested in seeing it made. Of course that is likely beyond the scope of the festival, I understand, but it would help to meet others and know who is out there, and who might like to connect over future projects.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It’s been good mostly. I’ve accessed as much as I could and submitted to numerous festivals, but it has definitely kept things organized and allowed for a mostly smooth transition from submission to festival acceptance and ability to download trailers, the film, the EPK, pictures and contain all the necessary info. It’s definitely a great platform.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Seriously? Lol. Anything vegetarian. I’m a tofu lover. Don’t hate me. I also love most Asian cuisines, Japanese, Thai, Korean.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Yes, well, I finished a screenplay about a fifteen year old nonbinary child who is thrown out of their house by their religious parents for being queer. I’ve finished the second draft and hoping to find a path forward with this. I applied to the CFC this year. Not sure if I’ll get in, but it was worth the try. I’m also hoping to adapt my memoir into a limited series. A literary agent is interested in the possibility or the potential for that to happen. I’m also going to be in a show as an actor but I can’t say which show because I’ll have a lot of people angry at me and I’m not allowed to say which series! Lol. I also played a non-binary character on the show The Expanse this year and that was so much fun. But it all feels like the right path and I’m committed to to telling stories about our people. It means…everything. I just hope that one day we won’t need to fight and work so hard just to be seen, or for equity, access, and full human rights. One day at a time.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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